Making your photos worth 1000 words

This is a joint post between Sue Waters and myself about integrating Flickr with Picasa, and has been cross posted on each of our blogs.

Let’s start with a little background on this post’s origin

After spending some time yesterday migrating Linda’s entire photo collection (well, most of it… did I mention that regular backup is very important?) into Google’s Picasa photo management application and then giving her a bit of a tutorial in how to use it tonight, she asked the next obvious question… how do I put some of these photos onto Flickr? A good question. After all, Flickr is without a doubt the best online photo sharing website around. With amazing tools and options, an incredible online community for sharing and learning from each other, and a huge array of APIs that enable Flickr to work with a range of different online and offline services, the decision to use Flickr as your online photo storage tool of choice is a bit of a no-brainer.

However, on the desktop it’s a different story. Flickr is purely a Web2.0 service, and there is no local desktop component offered with it. This means that while Flickr is wonderful at managing your photos online, when it comes to dealing with the photos stored on your hard drive the only real options you have is whatever tools are already on your computer. If you have a Mac, iPhoto does a great job of photo management. It’s free and comes with every Mac. If you are more serious you can always look at Adobe’s Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture, but these are quite expensive applications. On the Windows side, there are probably dozens of “photo management” applications but most of them are pretty awful, and some are also expensive. Most people just settle for managing their photos directly in Windows Explorer which is an average solution at best.

Using Picasa for your offline photo management

Enter Picasa from Google. Picasa is a wonderful free piece of photo management software and lets you sort, arrange, adjust, crop, rename and generally manage your photos on your computer. It really is an incredibly sophisticated yet simple tool for photographers and the price tag can’t be beaten…. you can’t do much better than free. It is available for Windows only, which makes perfect sense since it essentially does most of what iPhoto already does on the Mac. As well as the desktop app, there is also a “Flickr-like” online photo service from Google called Picasaweb. I say “Flickr-like”, because although it lets you store your photos online it lacks the same community and API sharing that makes Flickr so compelling. If you’re serious about photos online Picasaweb could be a little disappointing. However, being from the Google stable of products, there is some common functionality for exporting photos directly from Picasa on your computer to Picasaweb on the net, which is a nice touch.

The trouble is that while Picasa may be an obvious best choice for local photo management, Flickr is the obvious best choice for online photo management. It would be nice to have the option to manage your photos locally with Picasa and then send your best shots up to Flickr to share with the world. Nice, except that Picasa is owned by Google and Flickr is owned by Yahoo!, and when companies are in direct head to head battle like Yahoo! and Google are, the last thing you want to do is anything that promotes your competition. This is unfortunate, since the losers in that battle are you and I, the consumers. We just want to manage our photos using the two tools we like, but it’s not as quite as straightforward as that.

Connecting via Twitter

Talk about synchronicity. As I was pondering this question tonight, the exact same question floated through my Twitter feed. Mrs_Banjer , sujokat and Sue (dswaters) were discussing the very same issue – how to manage your photos on and offline, what service to use, how to integrate them, and essentially they were tweeting on the very same things I was thinking about. One thing led to another, so via Twitter we discussed, chatted, talked and shared links. We pontificated on the pros and cons of Flickr versus Picasa. This is just one example of the power of an always-on personal learning network. Eventually though, I felt I needed to clarify a point in the discussion so rather than overTweet to the world, I Skyped Sue Waters in Perth and chatted about it directly. While we were talking a tweet came through from sujokat asking “someone do a blog on this please this is fabulous but all too quick for me to take it all in”. Sue and I decided that we’d do that… write a post about the pros and cons of Picasa and Flickr, but we’d do it as a joint post. So this is being written in Google Docs and is a collaborative effort between Sue and I… over to you Sue.

Now for My Thoughts On Picasa vs Flickr

Getting photos off the Camera

One of the best aspects of Twitter connectivity is the challenging of your thoughts, beliefs and making you really think; often about issues you had not considered. This was definitely the case with Picasa vs Flickr. I have rarely used Picasa as Window Explorer and Picture Manager have been adequate for my needs but really into Flickr. In all fairness to Picasa more likely that I have not spent enough time exploring the virtues of Picasa — it did take me 12 months to realise the benefits of Flickr. So my homework for the next few days is to throughly road test Picasa and report back to ensure I have done my usual through research.

It is definitely benefical to import photos from your camera directly into Picasa because it means you don’t import multiple copies of the same photo.

Uploading to Flickr

For Mac users, there are several options for getting photos to Flickr. As iPhoto is a standard application found on every Mac it is a much simpler proposition for developers to create APIs that hook directly between iPhoto and Flickr, so there tends to be a number of uploading tools available, the best known of which is Flickr Uploadr. As well as the Flickr Uploader, there are free tools like FFXporter that plug directly into iPhotos Export option to offer direct Flickr integration. Another option is to use Flock as your web broswer… Flock has Flickr uploading tools built right in.


For Windows users who like Picasa as their photo management tool, uploading images to Flickr from Picasa is also a relatively simple process, even if not quite as obvious or integrated as that enjoyed by Mac users. Just download and install Flickr Uploadr on your desktop, open the Flickr Uploader and Picasa windows alongside each other, then drag and drop the images from Picasa library onto the Flickr Uploader. Simple!

Final Thoughts

Also worth checking out David Jake’s thorough information on Flickr (thanks sukojat for the link) and Philip Nichols’s guide to Picasa.

Besides learning a lot more about Picasa it has been amazing collaborating with Sue to write a post together; using Google Documents, Twitter and Skype.

Sue and I would love to learn more about how you manage your photos.

What are your thoughts? Do you use an offline photo management software? What features do you like about the software you use? Do you share your photos online at Flickr or do you use another photosharing website? And if so, which one and why?

Please take this opportunity to drop past Sue’s post and leave some tips for her as well.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Making your photos worth 1000 words by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

8 Replies to “Making your photos worth 1000 words”

  1. Another interesting aspect of the post is seeing the look of the post on our two blogs with different themes. Your wider template means the post looks a lot cleaner on your site compared to mine — bummer. While not an issue when read in a Feed reader makes me a bit jealous!!! I agree Sujokat — I certainly learned more about Google Documents even if Chris has not explained how to blog the post directly from Google Documents to his blog. Not sure if we have time to go back to work :).


  2. Thanks to you both.
    I have been fiddling around with Picassa and found that you can easily create a movie / slideshow of your photos. Simply select a folder of photos (or select photos from different folders) and then select ‘movie’ from the ‘create’ menu. It allows you to change the delay between pictures and the size of the movie. You can then deposit this into windows movie maker, add sound files and its done. Doing it this way more than halved the time it took for me to make a short movie by only using movie maker.

  3. Sujokat – Yes I hadn’t used Google Docs all that much, but when Sue W suggested we cowrite a blog post it seemed like a great way to have a further play with GDocs. We were still on Skype talking about what a good idea it would be and I created the basic document, added her as a collaborator and sent the invitation to work on it. It really is a very seamless process.
    What DID surprise me was the ability of Google Docs to integrate directly into my existing blog so that the finished post, written in GDocs, could be posted to my blog in a single button click. THAT impressed me. Sue and I started adding links and formatting text in the Gdoc, and I kept thinking that all that would need to be redone when we cut and past it to our blogs… but the share/export to blog function preserved all of that formatting. Very impressed! Thanks Google.

    Andrew J – Yeah I installed Picasa on my girlfriend’s Dell laptop after she watched enviously as I flicked through my photos using iPhoto on my Mac. Picasa is certainly the next best thing to iPhoto for Windows users. (I’ve heard some Windows users say that Picasa is actually a better tool than iPhoto for photo management – It certainly comes close, but I still think iPhoto wins)
    Just on the slideshow/movie thing you mentioned, one nice thing in iPhoto is that it can create slideshows too, and include the soundtrack (well, a single song anyway… more complex soundtracks would be a bit harder) Just pull all the desired photos into a single album, then choose File > Export and select the Quicktime option… Viola! Done, including the currently selected music track. Actually, the slideshow options in iPhoto, along with the options to Fit to Music, add Ken Burns effects, etc, make it very easy to bang out some very fancy slideshows in (quite literally) one click. nice! 🙂

  4. Got to tell you Chris & Sue, you’ve helped with a presentation I have to make Jan 18th!

    Got our folks using blogs, now trying to get them beyond just typing and how great to have this for them to reference.

    AND Andrew, thanks for the bit about GDocs.

    Hummm, looks as if I’m hoping to get a weeks worth of content into a 3 hour session.

  5. Hey Chris, thanks for the great post. I didn’t realise that there were those extra things that you could do with Picassa. Will have to check them out. In answer to your question, I use Flickr to share images with family and friends and use PaintShop Pro and Fireworks for image editing. But I as I said I think I’ll check out Picassa a bit more thanks to your post. Coincidentally I blogged about Google Docs tonight. I love it and am finding that I’m using it more and more. As you said it’s great for collaborating and I’m finding that its becoming more and more useful as a way to access, store and work on files from anywhere. I came across a lovely little addon sidebar for Fireworks and Flock. You can click and drag files from your hard drive and it directly uploads them to your Google Docs account. If you haven’t seen it check it out here. Cheers Anne.

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